Monday, October 8, 2007

Sometimes a Little Goes a Long Way

We're lazing around at a huge festival, it's warm and sunny, perfect weather. Not too hot that every other person is fainting, and we have lots of shade, so the sun isn't bothering us. We've been playing poker all morning, the guys have taught me how to play and I've had some pretty good hands. I need to work on my poker face though, all they have to do is look me in the eye, and they know my hand. Ah well, we're just having fun. NDP wins the game, raking in my remaining pile of chips with a grin on his normally stern face. I came close, but his experience beat me in the end.

We drift away from the table, some get food, others go for a walk or head into the trailer. I flip through John's EMS pocket guide, wishing I knew everything in it. He starts to teach me about EKG rhythms; how to read them, what they mean, what the heart is doing in each case. Apparently some of the others aren't happy with the fact that he's teaching me so much, but he doesn't care, and neither do I. His reasoning is that since I want to become a paramedic (maybe - still considering options, although he insists he knows what I'll pick in the end...hehe), I have to learn it eventually, so he may as well teach me now. I like that reasoning, I love learning this stuff, and he teaches very well.

Soon it is just John and I sitting at the post, our chairs facing each other so we can talk and scan 360 at all times. It's weird how that mentality takes hold - it's the middle of the day at a family festival, yet we just naturally watch everything, everyone, everywhere. Over his shoulder I see a small horde approaching, weaving through the trees and cars behind the stage. As they make a beeline for us, I nudge John's boot with mine and nod over his shoulder. He turns as they descend upon us, all frantically talking at once. "She got stung!" "Ahhhhhh!" "A bee!" "She got hit in the eye" "Help her" "OOOOOOO, it hurts!" The last from the large women in the centre of the group, obviously the mother of the equally large children that cluster around. She is holding her hands over her face, her eye, moaning and groaning in pain. John gets up from his chair, giving me an amused look as he steps back and behind me. My call, got it. Thank you oh-so-much!

I sit her down and ask her what happened as I get her to remove her hands from her face, anticipating the worst. Swelling, blood, an avulsed eyeball bobbing about, I don't know, but something to fit the drama of the situation. As she lowers her hands and looks up at me, I see nothing. ......Nothing? Nothing. I compare eyes. Ok, a bit of imagination could place some redness at the corner of the right eye near her nose, but most likely from her frantic rubbing. So now what? She says she was stung, it hit her in the face and "hurt really bad!" She is grimacing in pain, her and her family obviously expecting something to be done to make her all better. There is no sting mark, it was most likely one of those massive June bugs that have been whipping around the park all weekend. I've been pelted a few times and they do pack a bit of a punch, so I guess I can see where she is coming from. But what am I to do for her? She is not allergic to bees even if it were a sting, there is no mark, no swelling, and besides, it's too close to her eye to use one of those 'sting stop' swabs that magically make pain disappear. Medically, I can think of nothing I can do for her.

I look up at John. He grabs a 4 x 4" gauze pad and a bottle of water. Wetting it, he hands it to the women and tells her to hold it over her eye. Seriously? I did that to my little sister all the time when she freaked out over something. Please don't tell me it's that simple! She gratefully accepts it, and it has barely touched her eye before she lets out a squeal of relief. Leaning over so the water would not drip on her dirty shorts, she profusely thanks us, repeating how it feels soooooo much better now. In slight disbelief, I finish filling out her info on the paperwork and watch as she walks away, surrounded by her now-happy brood.

Again I look up at John, this time with disbelief written all over my face. "John, there was nothing we could medically do for her! It wasn't a sting, it wasn't swollen, it was barely even red! I can't believe that actually worked on her, I did that to my little sister all the time...." He simply smiled. "Sometimes a little goes a long way."

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